I saw American Pie in the theater and enjoyed it enough to stick it out through two sequels: American Pie 2 and American Wedding. By that point, though, I felt the creative teat had pretty much been sucked dry and it was time to call it a day. Imagine my astonishment when I discovered that the success of those films had spawned no less than four direct-to-video sequels: American Pie: Band Camp, American Pie: The Naked Mile, American Pie: Beta House, and American Pie: The Book of Love. Not done by a long shot, the original cast now reunites for another go-round in American Reunion. As the title implies, it’s been more than a decade since our fresh-faced and inexperienced teenagers graduated from high school and made the awkward transition into adulthood.
There’s an old expression: “God is in the details.” This was never truer for a film than Ridley Scott’s visceral dystopian masterpiece Blade Runner. It’s not uncommon for a motion picture to be released in more than one version or cut for the public’s delectation. Many times, a filmmaker’s original vision is compromised in favor of releasing a more commercially marketable product by the studio putting up the money. As a result, director’s cuts, extended cuts, and special editions are much more prevalent now in the digital age and home video market. Few films, however, have seen as many versions or received as much scrutiny as Blade Runner.
There was a time long before the Twilight era when vampires were stylishly suave, spoke with heavy European accents, resided in palatial gothic stone mansions, and didn’t get their wardrobes from Abercrombie & Fitch. Based on the popular cult soap opera from the late ’60s that ran for more than 1,200 episodes, Dark Shadows tells the story of a young 18th century aristocrat, Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) who foolishly spurns the love of a vindictive witch ironically named Angelique (Eva Green). Proving that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, Angelique places a curse on him and his entire family line. After witnessing his beloved fiancée take a suicide plunge off a seaside cliff while under a spell, Barnabas is condemned to be a vampire and then promptly sealed in a coffin and buried. And you thought your ex was a raving psychopath.
Alfred Hitchcock was a supremely gifted and innovative filmmaker and master of suspense…and a bit of a psycho in his own right, according to recent biographies on him. His films are the benchmark standard that nearly every suspense thriller since has taken its cues from. And in 1954, Hitchcock shot Dial M for Murder in the 3D format at a time when the novelty of 3D films was waning.
Oliver Stone practically had to sell his soul to get Platoon made at a time when no movie studio wanted to revisit the Vietnam War. After that film won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1986, however, it kicked open the floodgates, and suddenly movie theaters everywhere were inundated with Vietnam War films like Hamburger Hill, Casualties of War, and Full Metal Jacket, and all paled in comparison with Platoon. With Full Metal Jacket, legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick examines the ritualistic dehumanization of the American Marine through rigorous boot camp training and transformation into a remorseless killing machine.
In May 1977, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas were vacationing in Hawaii together. Spielberg already had the biggest box-office hit of all time under his belt: a little film called Jaws; and Lucas was hiding out from what he was certain would be a monumental disaster: a pet project of his called Star Wars. After Star Wars exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations and then some, Spielberg and Lucas sat and mused about future projects. Spielberg expressed a boyish desire to direct a James Bond adventure. Lucas replied, “I’ve got that beat.”
It’s a long-held myth that the average human being can access only about 10 percent of their brain capacity at any given time. For me, it happens to be true, and that’s on a good day, but I digress. Now imagine if you could take a pill that would give you complete and total brain function. The possibilities would be, well, limitless.
This is a drug that’s so new it doesn’t even have a street name yet. This is life on fast forward, it’s David Fincher on acid, and it’s one hell of a ride. When the effect wears off, though, it’s straight back to Stupidville, and you’re royally screwed if your supply runs out. Bradley Cooper is the washed-up writer who happens upon the drug in a chance meeting, and his life takes some very drastic turns—for better and worse.
The old adage “trust no one” is dramatically reinforced in the adrenaline-pumping thriller Safe House. Government-run safe houses are supposedly secure areas where people of interest can be kept in quarantine for purposes of questioning or until safe transport can be arranged. Ryan Reynolds is a “housekeeper” stationed at a CIA safe house in Capetown, South Africa. His daily regimen consists of total isolation and staring at the walls. One night, however, covert operatives arrive with a high-profile renegade agent to be interrogated. Shortly after his arrival, all hell breaks loose and pretty much stays on the loose until the end of the movie. Denzel Washington stars as the rogue agent carrying some extremely volatile and valuable information.
Long before Batman had the Joker, the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes, had an evil nemesis who was every bit his equal in intelligence and powers of perception; the yin to his yang, so to speak. Professor James Moriarty was a precursor to the Bond villain and a blueprint for every criminal mastermind to come. In the previous Sherlock Holmes film, he was a mysterious and sinister presence concealed in darkness. For A Game of Shadows, he comes to the forefront to challenge the master detective to a game to the death and is played with relish by Jared Harris.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the sexiest hunk of all? If given a choice between G.I. Joe or Ken, who do you think Barbie would choose? It’s a rhetorical question, but the answer is obvious all the same. And even though the handsome Prince in Snow White and the Huntsman isn’t exactly a Ken doll, he’s still hopelessly out of his depth here. A woman’s quest to stay forever young and beautiful can go to some pretty obsessive lengths depending on the woman (so I’m told), and in the kingdom of Tabor, the Evil Queen Ravenna is taking it to the harshest of extremes. Snow White, total hottie and legitimate heir to the throne, poses the last remaining threat to the queen’s eternal beauty and supreme rule, so drastic measures are called for.